Politicians are always trying to convince voters how much they care and hard they will work to secure our future. They often promise that, if we elect them, they will work hard to enact policies that enable We the People to thrive.
But for the past half-century politicians and presidents from both major parties have run up a debt so large that it is now nearly impossible to pay off. And that burden will fall most heavily on our progeny.
As of this writing, our national debt is north of $19.3 trillion; it is growing by tens of billions per day. Our annual income – gross domestic product – is about $2 trillion less than what we owe. So, at present, and if the debt stopped growing today, it would still take more than a year’s worth of national income to pay off what we owe.
Obviously that’s not going to happen – because obviously, we have a government that has no ability to control its spending habits.
Part of the problem is that, over the decades and in an effort to buy votes, our lawmakers and presidents passed reams of legislation creating “benefits” and entitlements that have grown so large they are consuming some 60 percent of what our government brings in each year. Worse, these expenditures are on autopilot; they are the first thing that comes out of the budget (and the second thing is interest on that huge debt we owe, which grows when interest rates climb and as the debt continues to grow.
And speaking of the debt growing, the Congressional Budget Office just issued a report that should shock you to your core, especially if you have children.
According to the CBO’s projections, the national debt will double as a percentage of GDP over the next 30 years – at precisely the time young adults today will be reaching retirement and our grandchildren their peak earning years, when both groups will have the most to lose.
While the debt has soared on President Obama’s watch – it has roughly doubled since 2008 – Obama doesn’t not share this disgrace alone. He had plenty of help from a spendthrift Congress that tried to walk back the only real spending cuts (sequestration) we’ve seen in years no sooner than Obama signed them into law.
If this is what our politicians mean when they say they care and want to see us prosper, we don’t need anymore of their compassion. What we need are men and women who are serious about making the federal government live within its means, just like the rest of us plebes have to.
But here’s the problem with that. Line items like Medicare, Medicaid and other entitlement programs, all of which are broke or heading that way, are politically untouchable. There are too many in Washington and in the media who want to demonize anyone who dares to suggest that those programs be reformed in any meaningful way so as to keep them solvent and keep the government from going belly-up. And keep our kids from having to shoulder this enormous debt.
So that means reform isn’t likely anytime soon, which also means we stay on the present trajectory to national bankruptcy and financial ruin.
Some gift to leave our kids, huh?
The politicians responsible for this fiscal train wreck ought to be ashamed of what they’ve done, but they’re too busy kicking the can down the road to notice the cliff on the horizon. In the meantime, the rest of us had better figure out how we’re going to shelter ourselves and our children from the nightmare that’s coming, while we still can.
That means paying off personal debt and saving as much as we are able. It means trying to steer our children into careers that have a future. And it means encouraging our kids to look out for their kids in the same way. That’s the only chance any of have to avoid the financial calamity our leaders have created.
Also, it means reforming our political structure, which generally means firing politicians who aren’t interested in government living within its means. We can take a huge step in that direction in November.